A Caricature Assemblage of Oddities, Whimsicalities & Extravaganzas!!

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George Moutard Woodward (1760-1809), Grotesque Borders for Screens, Billiard Rooms, Dressing Rooms, &c., &c., Forming a Caricature Assemblage of Oddities, Whimsicalities & Extravaganzas!! (London: R. Ackermann [1799]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2007-0006E

These grotesques (figures with large heads) were invented by George Woodward (1760-1809) and etched by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) for the publisher Rudolph Ackermann. Several times Woodward refers to the caricatures as Lilliputians, referencing the small people of Lilliput in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. The forty-six horizontal strips mounted on twelve plates were meant to be cut apart and used, literally, as border designs in your home. According to Greco, the partnership created twenty-four sheets in total. The Princeton copy includes an additional sheet of smaller sketches in 6 vertical strips, dated May 20, 1805, not a part of Grotesque Borders as originally published.

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Not long after Woodward and Rowlandson finished publishing their caricatures, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) wrote an insightful essay entitled, De l’essence du rire et généralement du comique dans les arts plastiques, in which he differentiates between the uses of grotesque comic figures. For an English language translation, see Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays (New York: Garland Pub., 1978). Firestone Library (F) NX65 .B38213 1978

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Thanks for sharing.. I happened across your blog and love that you have added these old time art styles. The quality of them and the quirkiness is something that is missing from today's art pieces I feel. The art in modern newspapers does not measure up to this, and sometimes I don't think the humor is there either.